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Spike in new COVID-19 cases concerning to health care officials

Intermountain Medical Center in Murray. (PHOTO: KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — With the holiday season over, Intermountain Healthcare clinicians are concerned about a recent spike in new COVID-19 cases in Utah.

Anticipating the holiday spike

The biggest worry relates to the potential impact on intensive care unit (ICU) volumes of patients at the state’s hospitals.

Todd Vento, Intermountain Healthcare Infectious disease physician, said coming off New Year’s weekend, the current seven-day average for new cases in Utah was just under 2,700. He called that a concerningly high number, considering that an expected “holiday spike” in cases is likely coming sometime in mid-January.

“We are anticipating that there will be an increase in the number of hospitalizations,” said Vento. “We haven’t really seen the effects of what happened for the Christmas holiday and New Year’s holiday at this time.”

New statistics on Monday from the Utah Department of Health put the seven-day average at 2,716 new cases per day. The positivity rate during that stretch is 30.8%. 

As of Monday, 484 people are now hospitalized across the state due to COVID-19. There were also 2,160 new cases reported and four new deaths from coronavirus. 

Vaccines don’t signal the end of safety measures

Right now, ICUs across the state are about 83% full of COVID-19 patients and others. A surge of cases in the coming weeks will likely increase that percentage, although the state has already navigated periods of 100% capacity.

Vento added that while COVID-19 vaccine distribution is significantly ramping up, it’s paramount for public safety that everyone continues practicing safety measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

“The year has changed, but the message hasn’t changed,” he said. “You need to still wear a mask and must continue to practice good mitigation and preventive practices to reduce community spread. This is as vital as ever.”

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States